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  MSNBC    MSNBC News Live    News/Business. Live news coverage,  
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    September 11, 2010
    7:00 - 7:59am EDT  

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for more on this story, log on to our website. that's all for now, i'm ann curry and for all of us here at nbc news. thanks for joining us. nine years later, the nation marks the anniveary of the 9/11 attacks. but could two brewing controversies overshadow this year's events? a new twist in the saga of that florida preacher o the man who says he may burn korans today is now in new york. what is he doing here? more stories out this morning from people who lived to tell about that massive fire near san francisco. some rays of light. new numbers suggest the economy may not be as bad as people think, but where are the jobs? good morning, everyone, i'm alex whit and welcome to "msnbc saturday." and today marks nine years since
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the september 11th terror attacks and hundreds will gather at memorials this morning for those who lost their lives that day. special services will be held at the three sites where hijacked planes crashed in new york, washington, and pennsylvania. ut along with this year's events, there's also controversy. nbc's michelle franzen is live near the world trade center site in newth york city. michelle, with a good saturday morning to you. what's the scene like this morning as of now? >> reporter: well, good morning, alex. certainly people are beginning to gather for the ceremony here in new york this morning. as you mentioned, certainly several controversies, political and religious controversies that are surrounding the events of 9/11 this year. and the emotions area usually heightened anyway. this is only adding to those tensions. we can show you a look at ground zero this morning as the nation gets ready to pause and also pay tribute to the lives lost on that day. despite a heated debate over a proposed mosque and islamic cultural center near ground zero and by plans by one florida pastor to burn copies of the
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koran, today, nine years after terrorists struck, the focus returns to remembering the victims. ceremoes in new york, virginia, and pennsylvania pay tribute to the 2,760 victims killed when terrorists hijacked four commercial planes and attacked the u.s. in lower manhattan, 9/11 families gather at zuccotti park adjacent to ground zero. throughout the morning as has now become tradition, theim nam of victims will be read and four moments of silence will mark the times each plane hit and each tower fell. the vice president joe biden is attending the ceremony along with city and state leaders and first responders. at the pentagon, president obama delivers remarks and participates ina wreath laying ceremony at the morial site. and in shanksville, pennsylvania, where united flight 93 crashed, first lady michelle obama along with first lady laura bush attend a ceremony to honor the passengers
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who fought back. meanwhile, plans to rebuild at ground zero are moving forward. the center piece, one world trade center is expected to be completed by 2013. but with each construction step forward, this remains a connection to the past. steel beams pulled from the ground zero rubble were permanently installed this week at tthhe entrance ofpt th natio september 11th memorial and museum slated to be finished in 2012. >> it is going to be a memorial that we will all be proud of and a memorial that will inspire people around the world. >> reporter: and always remind them never to forget. and in what has also become a tradition tonight, a tribute in light, two beams illuminating the night sky, symbolizing where the two towers once stood. >> michelle, do you see crowds beginning to gather? is it the kind of thing they know it's just over an hour or so before these tributes begin to take place? >> reporter: yeah, families are beginning to wander the streets down here in downtown.
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getting into place. and also, just saw some firefighters also walked by. and certainly it will be a very emotional morning. and also a time where people are reflecting on this day and nine years ago. >> very much so. nbc's michelle franzen, thanks so much. new comments from president obama this morning as the nation pays tribute to the victims of 9/11. in his weekly address, the president called on americans to take part in a national day of service and remembrance. it is an effort by the administration to help turn the country's pain into action. >> we are one nation, one people, bound not only by grief, but by a set of mmon ideals, and that by giving back to our communities, by serving people in need, we reaffirm our ideals in defiance of those who would do us grave harm. >> nbc's mike viqueira live at the white house and witho a go saturday morning to you, himike. let's talk about this day of service and what the president has planned. >> well, at 8:46, and that's the
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moment the first plane struck the world trade center, there will be a moment of silence observed here at the white house, alex, including the president. very shortly after that, he will board his motorcade and head south across the 14th street bridge and the pentagon where he will observe the 9/11 ninth anniversary there where 184 people died in another airplane attack that very same morning of 9/11. you heard michelle just m entio there that first lady michelle obama will join the former first lady laura bush in shanksville, pennsylvania, to commemorate the heroic acts of those folks aboard flight 93. alex, i was here working that day that morning in the capital. utter pandemonium as obviously there was in the streets of new york,elt as well. many of us believe that we were saved, those of us in the capitol, by those heroes aboard flight 93. and of course, joe biden in new york city with dr. jill biden his spouse and helping to observe the commemoration there, as well. both the president and the vice
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president,ob alex, will also observe this national day of service and remembrance by participating in a service ev t event. the esident in new york city -- i'm sorry, the president here in washington and the bidens in new york city, alex. >> mike viqueira at the white house, thanks so much. let's take a look at the full schedule of events today. at 8:40 eastern the ceremony in new york will begin with vice president d his wife jill. they'll be in attendance. at 9:30 eastern, present obama will attend the ceremony at the pentagon. also at 9:30, first lady michelle obama and f former fir lady laura bush will be present in shanksville, pennsylvania to honor those heroic passengers and crew of united airlines flight 93. then at 7:11 eastern time tonight that tribute will begin with twin beams of light shooting up from the footprints where the world trade center stood. be sure to stay with msnbc this
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morning for our special coverage with 9/11 as it happened. we'll take a look back beginning at 8:53 eastern when nine years ago today news first came in of the first world trade center attack. this morning, the site of the deadly gas explosion in northern california looks like a war e. federal officials are trying to determine what caused the massive fire storm in san bruno that killed four people and injured over 50 me. vice chairman of the national transportation safety board christopher hart was astonished by the devastation. >> there was a section of the pipe that was blown out of the hole and on the street that reflects the enormity of the explosion that took place. the charred trees, the area that was completely flattened, the melted, charred cars and houses that disappeared. it was just an amazing scene of destruction. >> nbc's leanne gregg is in san uno, california, and she's seen some of this destruction, which is just incredible by the pictures. good morning, leanne. >> reporter: good morning, alex.
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you know, as the neighborhood continues to smolder, the focus now is on the investigatn led by the national transportation safety board. they'll be back on the scene later this morning. but they say the final report won't come for another 14 to 18 months. this is what's left of a neighborhood in san bruno, california, not far from the san francisco international airport. 167 homes destroyed or damagedpe 15 acres charred, four people confirmed dead. hell on earth, that's how some describe the blast that shot flames hundredsf feet into the air. >> we thought a jet had gone down. >> reporter: fueled by a ruptured gas line, an explosion so violent it shook the earth. >> i tought we were having an earthquake and nothing happened so i looked out the kitchen window and saw this huge explosion. >> reporter: as the inferno jumped from house to house, firefighters faced hydrants with no water and exploding gas lines. >> we couldn't be successful
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putting out the fire without the supply being shut down. >> reporter: planes dropped retardant and by dawn, the fire was mostly contained. in addion to those killed, more than 50 others were injured, some critically. and now the questi, what happened? the local gas company pacific gas and electric says 30-inch gas line, one that's 40 to 50 years old likely ruptured. >> we are constantly working every day to make sure we're maintaining the integrity of that system. >> reporter: as the investigation intensifies, people stunned in this community rocked by the disaster hope for answers. now, as for those residents from those neighborhoods, there's no word yet on when they'll be allowed return and see what's left of their homes. alex? >> leanne, there have been some who have wondered why the national transportation safety board is leading this investigation. is it because of their vast experience with these major catastrophes like this? with plane crashes and alike? >> reporter: and because they are in charge of gas lines.
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who knew, right? >> i guess that's the answer right there. leanne gregg, thank you so much. >> yep. a new protest is scheduled today in new york city against the planned construction of an islamic cultural center near ground zero. the group called stop islamization of america is putting on this protest. organizers say attendees will include newt gingrich, a handful of new york political candidates, and dutch politician gert wildters. now, meantime, a march against racism and anti-muslim bigotry is also scheduled to take place in new york this afternoon. the florida pastor accused of compromising national security by threatening to burn the koran is in new york city right now. terry jones had no comment on his visit when he arrived at laguardia airport late last night saying he was "talked out." but the church will not be burning any copies of the koran today. live in gainesville, florida,
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the home of pastor jones' congregation. and good morning. his son sort of lift the door open for a koran-burning event in the future, didn't he? >> reporter: he certainly did, alex. they came out yesterday, his son did after the evangelical leader here. and what he said is what i can tell you tomorrow is that there will be no koran burning. and when reporters pressed him on this idea of future burnings of the koran, he didn't quite address it at all. he kind of left the door open as you said. wh's happening from here now is there's a waiting game. obviously the reverend is up there in new york city. and there's this talk of yesterday he was going to meet with the imam that was heading up the islamic community center up there. we don't know for sure if that's happening. supposedly one of his representatives, terry jones' representatives said through channels they're going to meet. at this point, this event -- there's been so many strange strings of event because
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originally this koran burning was supposed to be some type of demonstration or as the president called it a stunt against radical islam. and now all of a sudden on thursday it took a left turn and now there was supposed to be some kind of barter for jones from his perspective to stop the burning of the koran. and now in hopes for the trading off if you'd like to call i that of the imam up in new york city to stop the construction of the islamic community center. so this is very much taken a strange turn. and all the while, this has really been -- there's been widespread condemnation of what's been happening here. because the president has spoken out, the secretary of defense has spoken out, and there's been a lot of international condemnation of this, as well. >> i'm curious. i'm looking over your shoulder at the white trailer there, and i don't think that sign that has changed. it still suggests there would be a koran burning. or has that changed? i can't read that far in the distance over your shoulder. >> yeah, it says international
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burn the koran day. it was supposed to be scheduled for 6:00 today and obviously that hasn't changed. we're in a waiting pattern to see if that's happening. but yesterday the reverend's son said very much, you know, strongly that this wasn't going to happen. but he did leave the door open because when reporters asked hi if there was a possibility if this waspe going to happen in t future, he didn't quite answer that. >> okay. thank you for that. new this morning, iranian offials now say they're delaying the release of one of the three american hikers held in that country for more than a year. the officials say there's still some legal technicalities that need to be addressed. iranian authorities had said ey planned to release the one woman being held, sarah shord. meanwhile the attorney remains optimistic she could be released soon. her and her friends are being heldn iran as spies. 9/11 nine years later. how americans see the day's tragic events. how are thoseviews being shaped over time? we're going to hear a story
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a wildfire in colorado that destroyed at least 169 homes is now about 50% contained. authorities hope they can fully contain that fire in the next three days.op about 1,000 people are waiting for the go ahead to return to their homes. bedbugs have turned up at a hospital in lansing, michigan. they fumigated several rooms after the bugs were discovered. and a new record for yellowstone national park, more than 2 1/2 million people visited the wold's first national park over the summer. and that is up by more than 200,000 from last summer. park officials believe the increase is due to americans looking for a cheaper vacation in this rough economy.
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new reflections this mornin on a day that changed th nation if not the world forever. this country is paying tribute to the thousands of people killed in the 9/11 terror attacks. so othis ninth anniversary, how does america view those tragic events? and how are those views being shaped over time? let's bring in doris kerns goodwin. doris, always good to see you. thanks for joining us on this important day. >> you're welcome, alex. >> it has been nine years since that fateful day. how do you think the perception of the day has hievolved?me >> i think it saddens me to think about what we felt in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. that sense of community, president bush going to the mosque and talking about the fact that the face of the terrorist is not the face of islam. and we must recognize that it's a religion of peace, and we must not allow the t muslim people t feel intimidated. and thinking about the context of these last couple of weeks with both the building of the mosque and pasto jones. it just makes me feel like this celebration day we're in a sadder place than we've been for some of the previous ones in
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these last years. >> you know, the president even reflecting your thoughts there in saying that that which president bush did is one of the things he admires most about him. but with respect to how other historic events are viewed over time, what are the best hopes, doris, of what 9/11 will come to symbolize in the future? and what do you think the worst fears are of howit might be defined? >> well, i think the worst fears are whether or not it makes us turn in on ourselves. and that seems to be a little bit what's happening now. the best hopes, when you're an historian, you think what if things were different. i keep wondering what if 9/11 had been more like pearl harbor, mobilized the country to positive actions rather than the war in iraq. suppose there'd been a manhattan project for independents for middle eastern oil. there'd been such a desire, then, for alternative energy to get us ouof that in the middle east. what if the army had been expanded? we wouldn't have had the same need for the soldiers to get called bac again and again.
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what if there'd been true bipartisanship like after pearl harbor when roosevelt brought two top republicans into his cabinet as army andcr navy secretaries. what if we created a civilian defense corps? maybe that would have been in various cities and katrina might have been a different thing. hat if looking back in you the past, it might have been ndvery, very different. >> and as you're wellaware, polls are suggesting an increasing tenner of islamaphobia. do you have a sense of how the nation will be viewed in just this decade after 9/11? >> you know, i think one of the sad things as i'm saying too is what this means for us in the world at large. here we were fighting for freedom, we thought, in iraq ang in afghanistan. and we are, indeed. and yet the anger toward us seems to be expanding in the world at large. and i think it's even mre important for us then to defend our own valu here at home. the values of speech, the values
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of tolerance toward other religions so that people see that we're not turning in on ourselves. >> i'm curious, the sense of nity that we seem to not have right now -- i'm looking at an extraordinary article out of the "wall street journal" where quoting a 9/11 widow from new jersey. this year the tenner of the day is volatile and actually harder to take because of that. previously she describes feeling at one witthe rest of the country. i mean -- what do you say to that? and how confident are you it will change and revert to that unified look at 9/11? >> i think that letter is dead right. that's the feeling i have. i was thinking about this in the last few days, remembering some of the previous 9/11s. as sad as the original event was, in those years that , ther sense, well, we've come together as a nation and we're remembering this moment. and now it feels worse than it felt to me at any time since 9/11. now, i'm generally an optimist and hopefully this is something we're just passing through right now, but we really need our
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leaders to stand up right now. they can't afford any more to be a mosque and it's going to be politics whether we do or henot. we have to defend the right of muslims to live here. they're a part of us, but we need leaders on both parties to really talk about what we stand for or else we really will tumble down in a way that i think will make this whole thing much sadder thanit has to be. >> all right, doris, we're going to speak with you when we have our special programming. so we'll see you next hour. >> absolutely. a programming note. you can watch "meet the press" tomorrow, senior white house adviser david axelrod will be the guestn rudy giuliani will be a guest. the president's new ideas for fixing the economy, how will they work? will they succeed? that story when "msnbc saturday" continues. yellowbook has always been crucial to your business, but now, to get it really cooking,
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this report also showing sales for wholesale companies are also on the rise. meanwhile president obama defended his administration's economic initiatives which are facing mounting criticism leading up to the midterm elections. >> our economic plan has invested in badly needed infrastructure projecver the last 19 months. not just roads and bridges, but high-speed railroads and expanded broad band access. all together, these projects have led to thousands of good, private sector jobs, especially for those in the trades. >> let's bring in rick newman. rick, good morning. >> hi, alex. >> let's talk about something perceived by some as being good. the latest numbers on the wholesale numbers. do these suggest to you the economy is rebounding? >> yeah, this is part of the agonizingly slow recovery we keep hearing about. so things are getting better. but for every good economic indicator, there are one or two that are bad, and we're going to be stuck in this process of very slow improvement for probably months.
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>> so it's like two steps fo step back? >> one forward, two back, it's hard to tell. but yes, this is a very hting recovery as we all know. >> let's talk about the new stimulus ideas that the president offered up on friday in that news conference. hoare they going to help? will they help? >> i think they're unlikely to help at all. i don't thinkthey're likely to pass congress. he's talking about two tax breaks for business. these are two republican ias. he's going to gain support for llion of another $50 bi infrastructure spending. the problem is, it's unlikely this is going to get tough congress before the election and once the election's over, there's not enough time basically to get this through. the session is only going to be in session for a couple of weeks. and the big thing they're going to be dealing with are the bush tax cuts. >> very quickly, were they to get through? conceptionally? >> thiss a lot less than all
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of the other measures we've been hearing about that have happened for the last couple of years. so if we see these in a bipartisan congress, if the republicans get part of congress next year, maybe they'll do a little bit of good. >> okay. ick newman, more from you next hour. a sobering report about present day terror threats. they're becoming more difficult to detect. my eyes wat. but now zyrtec®, the fastest 24-hour allergy relief, co zyrtec® liquid gels work fast, so i can love the air®.
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contained. firefighters hope to have it fully contained in about three to five days. the fire has destroyed at least 169 homes and forced thousands of residents to evacuate. an american hiker sarah shourd won't be released from jail in iran today even though she was granted. and those your fast five headlines. let's get more now on that pastor who says he won't burn the koran, at least not today. terry jones is in new york city right now and hopes to meet with imam who is hoping to build the islamic center near ground zero. good morning, mike. what do we know about any potential meeting between these two men? >> reporter: hi, alex, how are you? what we know right now as of this moment, there is no meeting, at least one that has been set. we've been listening to pastor jones all week long as this controvey has pushed forward
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to this day saying a number of things, saying he didn't have a meeting, didn't have a deal. none of that happened. he's now in new york as you reported. there was a statement laput out last night on beha of the imam and the statement reads "i amed prepared to consider meeting with anyone who is seriously committed to pursuing peace." no meeting has been set. that was as of last night. but there are going to be people who argue that pastor jones given the fact he threatened and it was a threat to burn a pile ofot korans is not someone committed to pursuing peace. however the threat had to be taken seriously, it was taken seriously. he seemed perfectly capable of doing it and willing to do it and that threat itself becomes the leverage that could force a meeting. the imam has said consistently all week long that he has no plans at all and there is no deal or consideration or negoation about moving the location of the planned islamic cultural center and mosque. the owner of the building has said the same thing. it's hard to imagine whether any meeting if one did take place
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could result in the prquid pro o that pastor jones is hoping to take place. if there is a meeting, that'll be the next phase in this story that has been changing almost by the hour for the past week. alex? >> we thank you very much for the update. mike taibbi. even though the koran burning event has been postponed for today at least, demonstrators in afghanistan set shops on fire in eastern afghanistan. at least 11 people werela injur in similar protests yesterday. well, in just about an hour, a memorial service will take place at ground zero in new york city to honor those who died in the september 11th attacks. vice president biden is scheduled to attend that ceremony in lower manhattan where 2,7 people lost their lives in the attack on the world trade center. earlier, i talked wth new york city mayor michael blmberg about the nine years that have
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passed. >> we have reflected and we're rebuilding. and that's the balance that we have to have. we have to make sure that we don't forget and help those who had big losses and family members recover and get back. for the rest of us, it's more an economic thing. and something where we've gote o make sure we teach our children the lesson of 9/11, which, i think is that there were people around the world that felt our freedoms were something they couldn't tolerate. and they tried to take them away from us. and thank god they didn't. >> we're going to have more of my interview with mayor bloomberg in the next hour including his take on the controversy surrounding the proposed islamic center near ground zero. some sobering information by a new study by the former leaders of the 9/11 commission. present day terror threats are far more difficult to detect than they were in 2001 because of an increase in the home grown terrorists recruited right here in the u.s. but those threats are also less likely to produce mass
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casualties. the study also shows that nuclear and biological attacks are unlikely because terrorists don't have the capacity to mount them. michd ael, good morning. >> good morning, alex. >> here's what the report says which is sobering is that the u.s. government is ill equipped to handle these kind of terrorist threats and we "lag behind" in developing responses. do you agree with that assessment? and if so, why are we not better prepared? >> i think it's a fair assessment. since 9/11 we've structured our efforts both abroad and domestically against org threats like al qaeda and spin-off organizations. the fbi in charge of the domestic counterterrorism looks at these organizations and people that might be affiliated with them. this report says it's more self-generated people at the lower roots that may not have connections to those organizations which might require more of an effort by local police departments. and most of them are not doing like new york city did where we had our own local efforts to
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find these guys. >> in the past year alone, in the progeny of hard-working immigrants gravitate to terrorism. there seems to be no longer a cleaprofile of a terrorist. >> that's right. in the past we saw more people that were recent immigrants or people who came into the united states to conduct this. now there is no pattern. you really have to have much more vigilant local forcest looking for these hot spots and trying to identify people before they organize a plot. >> another thing from the report. it says that american overretions to the unsuccessful attempts have helped fuel and ferment the sentiments overseas. >> the new cycle generates this information, it spreads overseas in easternthafghanistan, and thy have a demonstration. it's part of the world we live in. i'm not sure it can be managed any differently. these things are going to be
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reported on, there's going to ba reactions. we have to deal with it. >> what about in terms of managing an agency or some group to oversight americans that are being recruited by terrorists from overseas via the internet or anywhere else. there's nothing that's specifically devoted to that thus far. would it be successful? >> i think it's really the fbi's job. and there are some who suggest perhaps we create another k organization. i don't think i would go in that direction since 9/11 we've created a lot of bureaucracy. the fbi is the organization responsible for that. i think ey have to leverage more local forces and find these potential terrorists that are at the home grown level, and that's what we need to reenergize our efforts in the next, unfortunately, for years ahead. >> we'll see you again this afternoon, we continue our live broadcast. thank you so much. federal officials are trying to determine w caused a deadly gas explosion in a northern california city thursday ght. a gas line ruptured in san bruno igniting that inferno.
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the explosiond killed at least four people and of the dozens more who were injured, seven are in critical condition. the national transportation safety board began an official investigation yesterday. and here with me now, san bruno fire chief dennis haag,. gentlemen, thank you so much for being here on this early morning. >> it's great to be here. >> great to be here, alex. >> the red cross has certainly been on the scene helping victims. people have been donating supplies and money. how is that community doing? and what are residents in need of most right now? >> well, actually, that's doing very well, alex. red cross has been here right away. the donations, the gifts, water, food, clothing, everything is coming in. that has not been a problem. the community has really come together. we've tobeen obviously in recovy mode trying to find out what has happened, why this pipe erupted. but the red cross has just been fantastic.
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>> also, lieutenant governor, the ntsb arriving on the scene yesterday. have investigators been able to determine what caused this gas line to explo? >> that's my biggest issue now. we're in recovery mode. now we're in the investigative mode. i really want to know what happened, how it happened. the people of pecalifornia, the people of san bruno want to know. we want this investigation to move forward. we want it to be quick. we need to know now. there's a lot of neighborhoods that i'm sure have 30-inch gas pipelines under their neighborhoods. so we need to find out how that happened. i'm sure if you're at home you're saying, is there one under my house? i want to know also. i didn't know. >> i asked that myself. i'm curious, what have you learned about the condition of the gas line before the explosion? do you know if there'd been problems with it in the past? >> you know, we're looking back at path dispatch records and obviously pg&e has volunteered to look at their records to see
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if there were any earlier indications that there were callouts at that location. at this time, at least from the re side, we have not completed that investigation. >> there are some reports, sir, i'm sure you heard about. people having smelled gas within the four days prior to the explosion. have you been able to confirm that? >> well, that's one of the things exactly, alealex, we're looking back into to see if we did have emergencyalls in that area to gas calls. and pg&e has agreed to do the same. >> that's a very good question, alex. >> no, go ahead, sir. >> go ahead. >>well, i -- >> no, i think that's a very good question, because yesterday when i was in the center we had folks that said we smelled gas. i said to whom did you report it to? we need to look at all this. that's a very, very important topic. if there was, we want to make people accountable. and whoever's at fault is going to be accountable. >> yeah. and chief, i'll just say that having broadcast segments of this story, i was literally
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arrested in my coverage of it. i could not believe the pictures and the enormity ofhe destruction from a firefighter perspective. what was this fire like to tackle? >> well, it was -- it was a very -- alex,di it was very difficult obviously when you have 38-inch gas main. it produces a very huge heat, intense heat. and, you know, it was very difficult and obviously, you know, to try to extinguish it, we needed to eliminate the fuel force. and of pg&e did respond in immediate fashion and were very cooperative. but it took time to shut the system down. >> yeah, i can imagine. well, i know there are a lot of questions to beanswed ahead and both of your efforts are much appreciated. gentlemen, thank you so much. 9/11, nine years later from ground zero to washington to shanksville and beyond. america and the world remembers.
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we'll have more insight and perspective about that dark day still ahead here on "msnbc saturday." [ female announcer ] it starts with you falling in love
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at 45 past the hour, i want to let all of you know we have this breaking news to share. that man you've becometh famili with over the past few days, that is pastor terry jones who has just told carl quintanilla there will never be a burning of the koran at his church. once again, that man pastor terry jones who has created so much uproar over the possibility of having a koran burning at his gainesville, florida, church tonight between 6:00 and 9:00 p.m. has just told carl quintanilla there will never be a burning of thse koran at his church. pastor jones is also saying there is no meeting set up with th imam here in new york city. and that is the reason for which he traveled to new york city having arrived last night arrivingt laguardia airport. we're going to stay on top of this. meantime, let's take you
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quickly down to ground zero. we will show you that is where vice president biden and his wife jill have just arrived there right there. and the center of your picture. they'll be commemorating with all the others, this poignant anniversary in lower manhattan. of course, today americans around the country are marking the ninth anniversary of the september 11th attacks. the memorial service is scheduled to begin an hour from now, the vice president will be there. and for many who survived the attacks or witnessed the horrific eventsfirsthand, the memories of that day remain fresh in their minds. heren studio joining me live fire commissioner thomas van essen whose profound memories remain front and center. >> i think about it every day. >> i bet you would. where were you that day? >> i got to the north tower right away. i was there, chiefs and everybody were arriving. and guys were doing their job getting ready, getting up as fast as they could to help as many people as they could.
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then we felt the vibration. we thought it was an explosion up above and it was theit south tower. and it wasn't until that point that we realized we had been in something that was much bigger than anything firefighters have ever been involved in before. they told us the pentagon was hit, the mall of america was hit, the sears tower was hit. and this was all confirmed informion. it all started to grow out of control around us and just tried to get everybody out of the two buildings at that point. >> i have a very profound memory of you in your fire chief hat, your garb, your protective gear, and you always seemed so in t control of things when the cameras were trained on you. did you feel that way inside? >> no, not at all. in an operation like that, all the firehiefs came. we had experienced fire chiefs and they were in charge of fighting that battle. my mission was try to get back to the major and brief him, keep him up to date on whaton was gog on. but i always enjoyed having been a firefighter, i liked being in
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the middle of that. and it was exciting for me. and that was just something that i started -- i was there a little too long and finally i reached mayor rudy giuliani just as the south tower fell down. >> what is themoor most profoun memory for you that day? is it sound? is it smell? is it visual? >> you know, when the south tower fell -- when the south towestr fell and it just engulf us, we were in the street. and i felt the sense of helplessness because they told me that it'd collapse ecollapse. i said how many floors? and i thought maybe a few floors collapsed because you couldn't seeanything. you saw the dust that just engulfed us. and as we -- then we met giuliani and the team, we tried to set up a command post, we realized it was the whole building. and we knew the other one would come downecause that was hit first. so that's the memory i had. just kind of a helplessness nowing that giuliani asked me how many guys doyou think are
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in there? i said i have no idea. i know they'll be high up, i know how guys were in there? i had no idea. i knew we would have a lot of people high up that couldn't have gten up. >> and that brought tears to your eyes, i'm sure. >> it was worse than that. it was a sense of, you know, what's going to come after this? you knew it was going to get worse and worse. there was nothing you could fix immediately or we could never fix. >> no, absolutely never fix it. new york city fire commissioner, former, on that fateful day, 9/11. thank you very much. i know you'll be down there at ground zero commemorations today. we have ou special coverage of 9/11, as it happened. we'll take a look back beginning right at 8:53 eastern when nine years ago first news came in of the first world trade center attack. my name is vonetta, and i suffer from allergies.
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annual observance of the 9/ than an hour from now. you see vice president biden along with his wife, jill, along with diagramnytories and many others. 1% of americans mentioning terrorism as the most important problem facing the yunited states. 46% of americans name terrorism as the nation's top problem back in october of 2001. jobs and the economy have been the number one issues named by americans since 2008. all right. we just got word a few moments ago that spastor terry jones sas that no koran will be burned ever at his church. that is news just in to us this morning. he told that to ourca colleague carl quintinilla. joining me now, reverend robert shank. he met with pasr terry jones just yesterday morning. reverend, good morning to you. tell me what that meeting was about.
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what happened? >> originally, i went down to gainesville with the intention of appealing to pastor jones, to cancel. at that point, he had not made the announcement to cancel. we were able to secure an appointment with him, but en route, i was told that, in fact, he had announced he was suspending the burning of the koran. so, our mission changed. i went down with a colleague at the christian defense coalition and the two of us hoped to persuade him to make that a permanent cancellation. when i got there, he received me. it was a little tense at first, as you can imagine. it got warmer. we had a reasonable conversation. he was congenial. we were able to pray toghiether and i expressed my hopes to him.
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when i left, he said they would ve them a strong consideration. later on in the day, of course, he announced there would be no burning and today we heard that's permanent. >> all of this, the insight that you gleaned from pastor jones, we've heard what he says. do youhink he was surprised by ans the worldwide reaction to h plans and do you know what his goal here is really? >> absolutely surprised. not just surprised, but completely overwheed. he was not a man seeking a global platform, but he got it. and i it think that was, in many ways, overwhelming to him. >> are you sure about that? didn't he keep this all going? i mean, he fermented the fires. >> perhaps, but with a lot of help. i mean, i've been on the other side of that and i know it becomes kind of a reciprocal thing with the media and so forth. all along, i don't think pastor jones is charlottan. i think he is quite sincere, a
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man with great passion and conviction and i wanted to commend the decision that he made. i think he deserves commendation for that. >> do you believe his congregation is 100% behind them? >> no, obviously not. some of them left. we heard from some of them who strongly objectedto the stand their pastor had taken. but i think the outcome at this stage is the best we could hope and pray for. i do think there may yet develop a meeting with the imam, feisal abdul rauf, because i know him to be a very generous, kind and expansive soul. he may yet meet with pastor jones. that might puts. an end to this. i made it clear to the pastor in there could be no quid pro quo in that meeting. so, we'll see what comes next. but i hope it's the end of the matter. >> that meeting has yet to be scheduled but, you're right, that could take place. we thank you for your time, reverend rob schenck, thank you very much.
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>> thank you. family members of those killed in new york will be gathering along ground zero. [ rumbling ]
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